Methods: Multilevel models examined the effects of CareerStart during the middle grades on ninth grade outcomes, students were nested in the high schools they attended. An outcome of interest was progress toward high school completion. In high school, what grade you are in is not as important as accruing credits toward graduation (CTG) by taking and passing core courses. Therefore, a key ninth grade outcome of interest was how many CTGs students accrued. High school students also take end-of-course (EOC) tests, which in many school districts must also be passed for students to gain the related CTG. Therefore, EOC scores were also examined for Biology 1 and English 1, core courses for high school freshman. All analytic models also included gender, race/ethnicity, special education status, and standardized test scores for third-to-fifth grade to control for pre-treatment performance.
Results: The multilevel model predicting CTG revealed a significant effect (z=2.51, p>.01); students in CareerStart schools accrued on average one-quarter point more credits toward graduation. In the model predicting Biology EOC scores, a large and significant effect was found (z=401, p<.001), students who got CareerStart scored on average 2 points higher on a test where 47 is passing. In the model predicting English EOC, consistent with previous findings in terms of language arts exams, no effect was found, but a trend was observed (z=1.65, p<.10).
Conclusions and Implications: These findings support a long-term effect of career relevant instruction across the middle grades. While over the next 3 years we will be able to continually examine such effects as the intervention cohort progress through the high schools years. However, at this time the middle school engagement and academic performance effects reported in the other papers in this symposium, along with the current high school effects, lends strong support to the expanded implementation of CareerStart in urban at-risk school districts.